Tory leadership contest: Liz Truss will be even worse than Boris Johnson – Kenny MacAskill MP

Just when you thought there couldn’t be anyone worse, along comes Liz Truss.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is favourite to win the Conservative leadership contest (Picture: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is favourite to win the Conservative leadership contest (Picture: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

Poised to replace Boris Johnson, she seems set to prove that the outgoing Prime Minister’s not the nadir of post-holders at 10 Downing Street.

It’s not just the policies set to crash the economy and unleash misery across the land which show that. It’s equally been her performance as Foreign Secretary, a post which was also once held by Johnson.

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His tenure was pretty gaffe stricken. Nazamin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was put in danger by ill-judged comments made by Johnson when he was Foreign Secretary and she was in an Iranian jail. He also had to be cut short by the British ambassador in Myanmar when reciting Kipling, with all its redolence of Empire and racism. And there was more.

But those who thought that his tenure couldn’t be surpassed in lack of tact and diplomacy are discovering that it is about to be.

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Truss’s comments about French President Emmanuel Macron were scandalous. Asked if he was friend or foe, she replied “the jury’s out”. Sorry, just no. That’s rude, arrogant and simply unacceptable.

If that was a corporate chief executive, they’d be out on their ear. If it was a career diplomat, they’d be winging their way home.

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There was a time in ages gone by when wars started over less. I’m old enough to recall President Charles De Gaulle being required to leave Canada for his “Vive Le Quebec Libre”. But times have moved on.

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Both economically and with a war in Europe, you’d have thought collaboration was necessary and therefore diplomacy essential. Macron showed how you can respond waspishly but within the constraints of diplomatic language where every word has both meaning and nuances aplenty. His slap-down was to say, “the United Kingdom is a friend of France regardless of its leaders… and sometimes despite and beyond its leaders”.

But Truss’s petulant comments epitomise the arrogance and British exceptionalism that’s now the hallmark of the Tory government.

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There was an interesting article in the Financial Times that commented on her tenure as Foreign Secretary and especially in the relationship with the USA.

Brexiteers believe that they’ve sailed off into a brave new world, unshackled from slothful old Europe and where a rejuvenated Britain can set the world to rights with their trusty ally, the USA. But the special relationship has long since ceased to apply, if it ever did.

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Instead, the article referred to comments made by Truss that left the USA looking askance.

In April, she apparently called for a Marshall Plan for the Ukraine. Now the Marshall plan, post-Second World War, was wholly paid for by the USA and she didn’t seem to be expecting to put her hand in her pocket this time.

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No wonder American eyebrows were raised. The report suggested senior US administration officials viewed her approach as “very black and white” and that “her rhetoric has frequently outstripped British commitments and American policy”.

And that’s even before mention is made of the Northern Irish Protocol. If she triggers Article 16, she’ll find the USA and President Macron ramping up diplomatic pressure, not just the language.

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Aye, just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, along comes Liz Truss.

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